Thursday, 17 November 2011

Easing the pain of this world

Alumni Perspective--the following post is from a January 2011 student, originally posted on her blog

Hurt. Pain. Struggle. Poverty. Loneliness. Desperation. Hopelessness. Brokenness.

These were some things I saw and/or experienced during my time in Uganda. But that was not all. I also experienced the following.

Joy. Healing. Hope. Dreams. Vision. Wholeness. Love. Peace. Fulfillment. Reconcilation.

Not only so, but I also experienced and saw all of these things in the few short days I spent in Chicago over this past weekend.

Despite the fact that inner city Chicago may appear very different than Uganda, there are many similarities. There is a lot of hurt to be seen. A lot of poverty. A lot of desperation. A lot of hopelessness. There is also a lot of joy. A lot of love. A love of peace. A lot of hope.

We discussed in Uganda how it can often be easy to feel overwhelmed by the hurt we see and experience. The world is so messed up; how can I even begin to bring relief to such a broken and desperate world… especially when I am so incredibly broken and desperate myself?

This question was addressed in the book Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life, which we read and discussed in our Faith and Action class. The authors concluded that this burden can only be eased and addressed effectively through community.

"One of the most tragic events of our time is that we know more than ever about the pains and sufferings of the world and yet are less and less able to respond to them.

…When there is no community that can mediate between world needs and personal responses, the burden of world can only be a crushing burden. When the pains of the world are presented to people who are already overwhelmed by the problems in their small circle of family or friends, how can we hope for a creative response? What we can expect is the opposite of compassion: numbness and anger.

…If we let the full content of newscasts enter into our innermost selves, we would become so overwhelmed by the absurdities of existence that we would become paralyzed.

…The Christian community mediates between the suffering of the world and our individual responses to this suffering.” (pg. 50-53)

It is true that the pain of this world can become a burden. We can feel paralyzed. How can we help? How can we bring hope in the midst of pain and hurt and despair?

The authors of Compassion argue (and I would argue in agreement) that community is key. Whether we find ourselves in rural Uganda, in a brothel in India or in inner-city Chicago, we will not be effective without community.

Why is this? Community grants us support and encouragement. Life is hard. I would argue that not a single person has an easy life. Some have harder lives than others, but we all have struggles. Community offers the support and encouragement we need to keep going when our strength is running dry. Community helps us bring together our gifts and use them as one. Community helps us remember that we are not alone.

No matter where God leads us in life, there are a couple of things that will be true for all of us. 1. We will be somewhere. 2. That somewhere will be full of hut and needs in one form or another.

Don’t let the burden of this world overwhelm you. Participate in the community that surrounds you, and allow this community to keep you from filling up with numbness and anger. Don’t let yourself become paralyzed. This world is full of hurt and pain, but through God there is also love and healing and reconciliation.

Embrace God. Embrace community. Embrace love.

Meg (Spring 2011)
Huntington University

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